Silent but Deadly: Sisters of Silence Tactics

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With the release of White Dwarf 454, Games Workshop has released official rules for playing Sisters of Silence Kill Teams, giving us our first Kill Team rules update since the Annual dropped back in November. It’s certainly an exciting development, and you could be forgiven for thinking that Games Workshop had forgotten about Kill Team of late. But how does this new Kill Team stack up? In today’s Kill Team Tactics, we’re taking a deep dive into the new rules and talking about where the game’s other Sisters sit among the team tiers.

Faction overview

Strengths

  • Immune to Psychic Powers. As psychic nulls, the Sisters of Silence can’t be targeted by psychic powers and they give harsh negative penalties to nearby psykers attempting to manifest or deny powers – a -1 penalty for each sister within 18″ to a maximum of -4. Psybolts aren’t something you’ll have to worry about.
  • Really, really strong against Psykers. You also get to re-roll wound rolls against psykers, which means extra punching power against Grey Knights, Thousand Sons, and Horrors.
  • Melee. Executioner Greatblades are pretty nasty, sporting S+2, AP-3, D3 Damage profile that will help them cut through marines pretty easily when paired with the Vigilators’ 2 base attacks. And with 7″ movement, the team is pretty quick.

Weaknesses

  • Shooting. Sisters of Silence have some good shooting tricks, particularly with the number of flamers they can take and how they can use them, but lack good long-range shooting. The best you’re gonna get are boltguns, and if that means if you want better AP or damage, you’re going to need to get into melee combat.
  • Durability. With T3 and no invulnerable saves, Sisters of Silence will need to avoid getting shot at since they’ll be pretty vulnerable once they start taking a lot of shots, and Flesh Wounds will slow them down.

Competitive Rating

Mid-Tier. In open play formats like Annihilation, Sisters will likely suffer from the same issues as vanilla marines, the profusion of high AP multi-damage weapons flying in their direction vs a not particularly high model count. With no invulnerables, Toughness 3 and a 3+ armour save, then high AP weapons or weight of fire will kill them fairly quickly. Lacking Transhuman Physiology flesh wounds will damage the effectiveness of your troops in a way marines ignore.

In Arena there are a number of strengths the faction have that make them worth trying at a competitive level (which places them significantly above the other White Dwarf introduced team, the Kroot). While you might struggle against the top-tier competitive teams (Eldar and Dark Eldar have been doing particularly well) and the factions that got buffs in Elites, I would place Sisters as a more competitive mid-tier faction in Arena. The faction has the horde clearance that flamers gives them, some very nasty melee and numbers on about a par with Eldar. The tactics that the faction have maximise these strengths.

Shane: I wouldn’t say this team is top-tier, but I am not sure I’d say middle tier either. So upper middle tier? I’ll break down my madness in the playing section.

 

Credit: Daniel “Skails” Rodenberg

Special Rules

Psyk-Out grenades – These D3 grenades are only strength 2, but on 6s to hit against Psykers or Daemons it causes a mortal wound. This is very situational. It gives Vigilators a ranged weapon, but outside of battles against Grey Knights or Daemons, D3 strength 2 attacks are pretty sucky.

Psychic Abomination – Sisters of Silence models are flat out immune to psychic powers. If you take a psychic test or deny the witch test within 18” of a Sisters of Silence model, you get -1 to your test for each Sisters model (up to a maximum of -4). This completely screws over psykers, and means that factions that lean heavily on smiting enemies (Grey Knights, 1ksons) need to be prepared to fight without those buffs.

Witch Hunters – Every Sisters of Silence model has this rule, which lets them re-roll wound rolls against PSYKERS. If Psychic Abomination weren’t enough for you to pick up Sisters of Silence against your friends’ Grey Knights and Thousand Sons, this will certainly help seal the deal.

 

Units

Sisters of Silence were originally released as a characterful addition to the Horus Heresy in the Burning of Prospero box, giving the guards and witch hunters of the Black Ships models at last. Sadly the range is very limited, with only the basic unit in plastic (though split into three different units according to weapons) and one limited run character model. Forge World adds another infantry unit, a named character and a transport option, while Sisters of Silence can also take a rhino transport.

This fairly limited model range has led to a Kill Team consisting of three datasheets – Witchseekers (armed with flamers), Vigilators (armed with great blades) and Prosecutors (armed with bolters). Each unit has a basic cost of 10 points, with sergeants an extra point in return for +1 Attack and +1 Ld.

The basic statline for Sisters gives you a model with a 7” move, 3+ BS/WS, Strength and Toughness 3, 2 Attacks, 1 Wound, Leadership 8 and the 3+ save you get from power armour.  This gives you a faster but less resilient Space Marine essentially. Slightly cheaper than marines, you can reliably fit 8 models in a 100 point force.

Witchseekers

Armed with flamers, these clock in at 13 points. In open terrain witchseekers have to move up the field and set fire to things, but in Arena easy access to flamers on a model that can move 7” is pretty useful.

Taking 2-3 for Arena games is a solid choice, particularly combined with the Purgation Sweep tactic to let you clear rooms and corridors.

(Shane: Or taking, like 4+ anytime is straight fire.)

Vigilators

Armed with greatswords, this unit has real melee potential. It is worth spending the additional point to take a Vigilator Superior for the extra attack. Definitely use specialist slots to give Combat and Zealot specialisms to your close combat brawlers. You’ll be hitting at strength 5, -3 AP and D3 damage. This lets you carve up MEQs fairly easily, and extra attacks let you chop up more of them. If you have a Vigilator Superior with 4 attacks, it’s worth attempting multi-charges when you can. Combining this with the Decapitation Strikes tactic and D3 damage weapons gives a fairly reliable chance to kill fairly tough targets and clean up multi-charge combats.

(Shane: 2A base, with an extremely choppy sword? Sign me up.)

Prosecutors

Armed with bolters, this unit is for sitting on objectives and throwing a few bolter shots down range. Taking a Prosecutor Superior as leader (and you have to take a Superior as Leader) lets you take a Vigilator Superior as a Zealot or Combat Specialist. The Punishment Fire tactic is great for hitting GEQs behind cover, or hitting targets stacking negatives to hit (Mandrakes in cover at long range for example). Prosecutors will serve the valuable role of sitting on objectives, scoring secondaries and opening doors in Arena.

 

Tactics

Sisters of Silence get four tactics, one for each type of troop, and a general leadership one. While ideally there would be a resilience and movement tactic as well, the tactics the faction do have are pretty good. All of these are are useful as well as cheap in CPs.

  • Punishment Fire (1 CP). Turns a bolter into an 18” Assault 3 weapon that ignores all penalties to hit. Good for hitting enemies in cover at over 12” (sidestepping a -2 to hit) and dealing with hit penalty shenanigans that some factions use.
  • Purgation Sweep (1 CP). In the shooting phase change a flamer to Assault 6. While not useful in overwatch, this is great if you have enemies close to each other and can put 2 or 3 hits on each to try and guarantee injury rolls. A good anti horde tactic. (Shane: 6 auto hits, good anti anything tactic really.)
  • Decapitation Strike (1 CP). +1 to wound for one model for all its Greatblade attacks. This lets you wound marines on a 2+ and Deathguard on a 3+, so you can get to roll D3 damage and hopefully take them out. (Shane: Wait, S5 -3AP D3 damage, AND can get +1 to wound!? This is money.)
  • Unsettling Presence (1 CP). +1 to enemy Nerve tests for all models within 3” of a Sister of Silence. This is great for completely screwing an enemy team that have Broken, or causing severe trouble for Nerve tests for models with flesh wounds. (Shane: This tactic could be HUGE for stealing objectives from your opponent if you know their model is going to need to take a Nerve test.)

 

Credit: Evan “Felime” Siefring

Playing Sisters of Silence

Shane: So this team is really lacking in equipment options, but has a surplus of take whatever you want that is available.The fact that you can take as many flamers or greatblades that you want is phenomenal in my opinion. Not having a ranged weapon with AP is an issue, but not having a long ranged weapon is less of a problem in my opinion. As flamers are in other factions, as an assault weapon you can advance and shoot it, and since it doesn’t roll to hit, penalties don’t matter. You have a model that moves 7 inches with a minimum 1 inch advance and a 8 inch range. So effectively, your flamers can threaten 16 inches at worst (half the table longways) and 21 inches at best (more or less the length of the short edge). Due to the fact you can spam flamers, and they can effectively act along most of the table, do you really need a long range gun?

So I did a little quick maths, if you go max bodies (11 bolters and 1 flamer/greatblade) you can take 12 bodies. Or you can take a ton of special weapons instead. If you take 3 bolters (leader + 2 others?) you can take 5 flamers and 2 blades (10 bodies). Or you can just go whole hog and take all flamers/great blades and have 9 bodies.

Being able to take so many flamers allows you to seriously pressure your opponent (and/or make a melee team very unhappy), and the greatblades allow you to threaten multi-wound models (or just enjoy rolling multi-dice injury rolls).

Enemy teams with a bunch AP-3 or better ranged weapons should scare you, simply because you don’t have invulnerable saves, but you should be able to bully the table.

Effectively your team can be highly mobile from being able to take advantage of advancing easily.

If you can mitigate the semi-glass hammer nature of being T3, you should be able to deal with most match ups.

(I am not fond of taking bolters really, you are getting more auto hits with flamers, and effectively can threaten most of the board with them anyway. Bolter-equipped bodies, are just that – bodies – for this team in my opinion).

 

Sample Rosters

General Purpose 100 point Arena Force

Specialists

Prosecutor Superior – Leader
Witchseeker – Veteran or Demolitions
Vigilator Superior – Combat
Vigilator – Zealot

Non-Specialists

Prosecutor
Prosecutor
Witchseeker
Vigilator

8 models total, 100 points.

Shane’s BURN IT WITH FIRE 125 point sample team

Specialists

Witchseeker Superior – Leader
Vigilator Superior – Combat
Vigilator – Veteran
Vigilator – Zealot

Non-Specialists

Witchseeker
Witchseeker
Witchseeker
Witchseeker
Witchseeker

9 models, 122 points (of the emperor’s cleansing light).

Building a Roster

Being able to take 20 models, as well as there being game modes where you can take 125 points, means that rosters open up alternate builds.

Burn baby burn

Specialists

Prosecutor Superior – Leader
Vigilator Superior – Combat
Witchseeker Superior –Demolitions

Non-Specialists

Prosecutor
Prosecutor
Witchseekers
Witchseekers
Witchseekers
Witchseekers
Witchseekers

125 points

Chop Chop

Specialists

Prosecutor Superior – Leader
Witchseeker Superior –Demolitionist
Vigilator Superior – Combat
Vigilator – Zealot

Non-Specialists

Vigilator
Vigilator
Vigilator
Vigilator
Vigilator

124 points

Balanced 125 points

Specialists

Prosecutor Superior – Leader
Witchseeker Superior –Demolitions
Vigilator Superior – Combat
Vigilator – Zealot

Non-Specialists

Prosecutor
Prosecutor
Prosecutor
Witchseeker
Vigilator
Vigilator

 

So to flex between these builds you need a roster of the following:

Specialists

Prosecutor Superior – Leader
Witchseeker Superior –Demolitionist
Vigilator Superior – Combat
Vigilator – Zealot
Prosecutor – Comms
Prosecutor – Scout

Non-Specialists

Prosecutor
Prosecutor
Witchseeker
Witchseeker
Witchseeker
Witchseeker
Witchseeker
Witchseeker
Vigilator
Vigilator
Vigilator
Vigilator
Vigilator
Vigilator

Within the limits of the 20 model roster you could build a variety of themed lists tailored to different opponents, and still have 3 5 man squads to build a 40k Combat Patrol list.

 

Some Thoughts on the Faction

Having seen the faction and gone through the rules now, there are some thoughts on what we’d have liked to have seen/are still hoping to see for Sisters of Silence:

  • A Commander option – unfortunately there is no Null Maiden or Knight Commander model in 40k and no generic model in 30k (which would make a 40k Combat Patrol a bit more viable). There is Aleya from the Black Library Talons of the Emperor box, and adding her as a Commander would have been a good idea.
  • Prosecutor Cadre – these are prosecutors with twin bolt pistols. I know, FW stuff doesn’t get added to Kill Team, but it’s another option that could have gone in.
  • Null Aura or another Leadership debuff – Give a -1 to enemy leadership within 3” as a buff to all models. This makes Unsettling Presence even better (and worth changing to a 2CP tactic for balance purposes) and would be the equivalent of the faction tactics added in Elites.
  • Add an additional movement based tactic and a resilience based tactic. This would give the Sisters of Silence tactics that can be used in every phase of the game, increasing player choice and buffing the faction.

The weaknesses of the faction will always be long range shooting and being T3, but a bit of polish would make them top tier. As it is they are an interesting faction with a lot of potential, and I’ll be painting 15 sisters up to do both a Kill Team and a 40k Combat Patrol prior to the release of Psychic Awakening: War of the Spider.

 

*Signs Acceptance*

Hopefully you’re as excited about a new Kill Team faction as we are — there’s still quite a bit here, and more variety is bound to spice things up a bit. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or head over to r/competitivewh40k to discuss. Or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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